Friday, October 28, 2011

Wall St. Protesters Re-Occupy Oakland, But Empire Strikes Back Daily Nearby

Tents and protesters had reclaimed Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza, the site of Tuesday's police tear-gas attack that left Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen bloodied and focused international attention on Occupy Wall Street's Northern California franchise.

Nearby, at the Port of Oakland's massive container facility, giant container ships disgorged the outflow of globalization. The ships that sailed into San Francisco Bay and awaited their turn at Oakland's container port daily added to the economic imbalances the Occupy movement decried.

Manufactured goods from Asia. Produce from South America. Tax-free profits for multinationals.

The American economy's dire straits put thousands of fed-up protesters on the streets. In cities and towns across America, Occupiers protesting economic injustice camped out in mini-Hoovervilles. In Oakland, phalanxes of armored riot police from several agencies Tuesday zealously tore into a peaceful demonstration as the whole world watched on social media.

Under calmer conditions, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan attempted Thursday night to address the crowd that had reclaimed Frank Ogawa Plaza, and was booed off the stage as she queued for the microphone.

In a video Quan posted on her Facebook page, she said Tuesday's crackdown "was not what anyone hoped for, ultimately it was my responsibility, and I apologize for what happened." Quan had been on a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C. when police barricaded the streets, cleared the Oakland encampment, and launched a barrage of tear gas into a crowd of a thousand demonstrators who had marched from the downtown library.

Ex-Marine and Iraq War veteran Olsen was struck in the head. As a group of protesters gathered around him to render aid, an additional device lobbed from the assembled law enforcement ranks landed among the clustered protesters, and burst next to Olsen, a KTVU news video revealed. Olsen suffered a fractured skull.

"I shared my outrage and grave concern about the police brutality in Oakland directly with the Mayor," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said in a statement issued Thursday. "My thoughts go out to the injured and especially Scott Olsen." Lee's office stated the Congressmember had offered assistance to Olsen's family.

The 24-year old veteran, who'd served two tours in Iraq and was a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Friday remained in Oakland Highland Hospital's intensive care ward. His condition was upgraded to fair, although he might require surgery to relieve swelling to his brain.

Across the bay in San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee, eager to avoid the public relations black eye Quan suffered, postponed plans to clear Occupy SF's Justin Herman Plaza camp.

Rumors of San Francisco's impending police crackdown Wednesday night only bolstered the Occupiers' ranks with several hundred reinforcements, including city Supervisors David Chiu and John Avalos, and State Senator Leland Yee. All three were Lee's rivals in the upcoming Nov. 8 mayoral election.

By Thursday morning, the ragtag assemblage of core Occupy SF stalwarts and indigenous homeless camped at Justin Herman Plaza had swelled to 50 tents and 300 protesters, as office workers and tourists joined partisan activists.

With Lee promising "dialoguing" with Occupy SF representatives, the sort of heavy-handed police crackdown seen in Oakland appeared unlikely at least until after Nov. 8.

Like a parade of gigantic hobby horses, enormous cranes lined San Francisco Bay at Oakland. Huge container ships piled with cargo containers sailed through the Golden Gate bearing the outflow of Asia's manufacturing juggernaut, as well as components from Europe and produce from South America. Globalization that was sold as a boon for American exports proved only to be a boon for the transnational plutocrats who'd lobbied for globalization.

In the end, the only thing America exported was jobs. And waste paper, which was America's biggest export product to China.

Instead of creating jobs in America, tax and economic policies coddling the wealthy and their multinational corporations only encouraged offshoring and outsourcing. Low taxes incentivized gratuitous profiteering, so instead of selling American products overseas, companies shuttered American factories and opted for cheap foreign labor. Cheap foreign labor and lax foreign regulation fattened bottom lines with profits that could be skimmed off without a progressive tax penalty.

Companies could slash manufacturing costs while charging the same prices for their products, and the tax structure enabled the rich to pocket the difference.

American labor suffered. Foreign labor, automation, mergers, and layoffs idled millions. Money flowed from labor to capital. The American economy collapsed.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce loved it, and their recent open letter outlining their jobs plan asked Congress and the President to get them more of the same.

The ultimatum big corporations' and their Congressional Republicans now delivered to America was: If America wanted more jobs, America had to suspend all business and industry regulations, lavish the rich with more tax breaks and subsidies, and hand over all the money set aside for pensions, Social Security and Medicare.

Baring that, the multinationals and their Republican allies would keep strangling America, and anyone who stood in the way would get his skull cracked like Scott Olsen.

Oakland police continued to insist they didn't use flash-bang grenades, rubber bullets, or bean bags Tuesday night but hedged that officers from several other agencies had been present. A spent bean bag projectile was reportedly recovered near the spot Olsen had been injured. Oakland police claimed demonstrators "began throwing paint or other hazardous material at the officers who deployed tear gas as a defense tactic."

Rep. Lee countered, "The reaction was not appropriate. These are peaceful protesters who have a right to petition their government."

Scott Olsen's petition was rejected with a blast to the head.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments may be moderated for relevance and gratuitous abusiveness